Ambode/Kadle beLe vade


Ambode(deep-fried chana dal patties) is a quintessential accompaniment in a traditional iyengar meal for any rice dishes like puLiyogre, mango rice etc.I had been planning to make it for a long time but the thought of deep-frying, had been putting me off 😉 With an Ugadi potluck planned, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make this,  with step by step instructions from mom who makes the best ambode!

As with any Indian dish, this can be made with a lot of variations. I personally like to make it with mint. You can also use cilantro, dill (sappsige soppu) if you like the strong aroma, onions can be added( being a tam-brahm, I consider it a sacrilege to add onions to this dish :D). The trick to making crispy ambode is to not let the chana dal  soak longer, one hour of soak time makes the crispiest ambode!

Amobode

Ingredients : Serves 8-10

3 cups chana dal. (Soak for an hour)

5-6 red chilies ( Use half bydagi and half guntur)

1 packed cup mint leaves, washed and chopped finely.

1 pinch hing

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 table spoons shredded fresh coconut

2 table spoons dry coconut (koppari)

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon ghee (optional but recommended)

3/4 – 1 liter oil for frying

In a blender, finely powder the chilies, fresh and dry coconut. Add turmeric, salt and hing. Next drain the chana dal completely using a sieve and transfer it to the blender. Using the pulse option of the blender, pulse the mixture until the chana dal is coarsely ground. Be sure to not grind to a paste, coarse ground dough adds to the crispiness.

Transfer the contents to a mixing bowl and then add the chopped mint leaves, and ghee. Mix thoroughly.

Make lime size balls out of the dough and keep aside.

When the oil in the frying pan is hot and the stove is on medium heat, take the lime size ball of dough and flatten it out into a patty,  making sure the patty is 1/4″ in thickness. Add about 5-6 patties at a time and fry on both sides till golden brown.  Do not fry them on high heat, this makes the outside get brown while the dough on the inside remains under-cooked.

Serve with a full course of tam-brahm meal ;). It also pairs well with ketchup or mint chutney.

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AvarekaaLu palya/usli


Avarekai is apparently known as flat beans(I had to google for it!) in English and more popularly known as Surati Papdi in Indian stores in the US. Avarekai always evokes memories of my grandpa and also the erstwhile winters of Bangalore. If you are wondering why I chose the word erstwhile winters, it is a topic for another blog post :). Grandpa loved any dish made out of avarekaaLu! He would bring 2-3 kgs of avarekai from the market and leave it out in the open during the cool winter nights. This would make the avarekaaLu have more “sogadu”. To loosely translate the term into english, it means having a nice fragrance and an oily sheen to the beans. Then came the laborious process of shell the avarkaaLu. Next step was to separate the tender ones which would be used for making akki rotti. The big ones would be used to make saaru, upma etc.

Seeing as the love for avarekaaLu has been passed on through the next generations, I love using them in all kinds of dishes. Once such dish that I learnt from mother-in-law is the avarekai palya or usli. This pairs beautifully with plain akki rotti, puri or if you are little health freak like me, it goes well with chapatis too. I have to make do with the frozen variety here in the US though!

avarekaiusli

Ingredients: Serves 3-4

1 bag of frozen avarekaaLu or fresh beans from about 1.5 kgs of avarekaai

1 medium bunch methi leaves, chopped (optional but recommended)

2 teaspoons jeera powder

2 teaspoon mustard seeds

2-3 green chillies

1-2 cloves garlic

1 inch ginger

Onion 1 small chopped

Coconut 1/2 cup

Cilantro 1/2 cup chopped

Oil – 2-3 tablespoons

Salt to taste

Grind 1 tsp of jeera, 1 tsp mustard garlic, ginger, green chilli, coconut and cilantro to a fine paste with little water.
In a pressure cooker, heat oil, add mustard and jeera seeds and wait till the mustard splutters. Next add onion and saute.  Add the paste and saute for a minute. Add methi leaves and saute. Next add avarkaaLu, salt and little water if needed. Pressure cook for 3 whistles. Serve with plain akki rotti, puri or chapati.

BaaLekaayi palya/Raw Plantain stir fry


Raw plantain is a cousin to the everyday banana and used often in south Indian households. They are mostly used for making banana chips but other popular dishes include this palya and baLekaayi bajji. Without further ado, here is the recipe for baaLekayi palya. This pairs well as a side dish with rasam and rice.

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Ingredients : Serves 2-3

Raw plantains – 4 small, diced into 1″ pieces

3 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon rasam powder

1/2 tablespoon tamarind extract

1 sprig curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon mustard

1/2 teaspoon chana dal

1/2 teaspoon urad dal

A pinch of turmeric

Coconut 2 tablespoons (optional)

Heat the oil in frying pan and add mustard. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add chana dal and urad dal and fry till golden brown. Next add rasam powder, turmeric, curry leaves and the plantain and cover it and let it cook on low heat for about 10-15 mins.

The plantains need a little more oil then other vegetables because they tend to stick to the pan because of their high starch content. So if you feel the plantain is sticking to the sides of the pan, add a drizzle of oil.

Once the plantain pieces are cooked, add the tamarind pulp and toss gently. Once cooked, they tend to break if mixed vigorously.

Garnish with grated coconut and serve with rice and rasam.

Go green!


Go Green!

Green Chana ( chickpea)- Green mango chutney ( Hasi Kadalekai-Mavinakai chutney)Image

This is an easy to make,  irresistible “green “ recipe  to make the next time you have fresh raw green mangoes and fresh tender green chickpeas on hand. Chickpea and it’s tender green version are a great source of protein to add to any veggie diet.  Add to that the tangy taste of fresh raw mango, you have a winning combination.

Growing up, I remember going to the local market and bringing home small shrubs sprouting fresh green chana  and how over casual conversations, we would shell them from the pods and eat them for a great evening snack. This is recipe we learned from my mom’s older sister and is well worth keeping.

Ingredients:

1 cup shelled green tender chickpeas

1 cup small raw mango cubes

4-5 strings of Cilantroe

½ cup grated coconut

3 slit green chillies

1” fresh ginger

String of curry leaves, pinch of hing, Mustard seeds,  urad dal and chana dal and oil for seasoning

Salt to taste

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Method: Season the mustard seeds, urad dal and chana dal till the dal is golden brown. Then add the grated coconut, fresh ginger pieces and the green mango pieces. In a blender, add the shelled chickpeas and cilantroe. Grind all the ingredients into a coarse paste. Add salt to taste. Tastes great to dip with any appetizer!

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Pineapple Gojju


Pineapple gojju brings memories of “baaLe yele oota” or food served on a banana leaf. It is features very commonly on the menu during weddings or other functions in a typical kannada household. I bought a big pineapple and didnt know how to finish it. I had been wanting to try it for quite sometime now and this was a perfect opportunity. Dont skimp on the coconut while making this recipe, that is what gives it that yummy taste!

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Ingredients : Serves 4

Pineapple : half, cut into chunks

Dried coconut (koppari) : 1/4 cup

Red Chillies : 4-5

Curry leaves : 1 sprig

Poppy seeds/ gasagase : 1 tablespoon

Urad dal : 3 tablespoons

Hing : 1 pinch

Turmeric : 1 pinch

Oil : 3 table spoons

Mustard seeds : 1 teaspoon

Heat a few drops of oil in a saute pan and add the urad dal, chillies, hing, coconut and poppy seeds. Roast them till the urad dal turns golden brown. Grind all the mixture with water into a smooth paste .

PineappleGojju2

Heat the oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add the pineapple pieces and add about 1/2 cup of hot water. Let the pineapple chunks cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the paste and let this simmer for a few minutes. Add salt and taste it. Depending on the sweetness/tartness of the pineapple add a few spoons of jaggery powder and tamarind pulp to adjust the taste.

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Enjoy with steaming hot rice and some peanut oil!

Ragi Upma


Ragi or finger millet used to be considered the poor man’s grain back in the day. Off late grains like finger millet, foxtail millet and quinoa are gaining more popularity because of their low glycemic index and fiber content. These foods are slow to digest and don’t spike blood sugars thereby keeping you full for longer!
I try and substitute these for rice and use more of these grains in our daily diet.

Ragi upma is an unusual dish and has been a long favorite of mine! This is a very hearty breakfast and easy to whip up especially on a lazy Sunday morning.

Ingredients : Serves 2

Ragi flour : 2 cups

Rasam powder : 1 tablespoon

Jaggery : 1 heaping tablespoon

Tamarind paste 1 tablespoon

Water : 1 and half cups

Curry leaves 1 sprig

Peanuts 1 tablespoon

Oil 3-4 tablespoons

Mustard 1/2 teaspoon

Urad dal 1 teaspoon

Chana dal 1 teaspoon

Turmeric 1/2 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Grated coconut 1-2 tablespoons

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Mix together ragi flour, rasam powder, jaggery, tamarind pulp, salt with water and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Next add the peanuts and fry for a minute until they begin to brown. Then add the urad dal and chana dal and fry till golden brown. Add the turmeric and curry leaves. Add the ragi mixture and still continuously on low flame. Cover with a lid and let this cook for 10-15 mins until the ragi begins to disintegrate and for small clumps. Serve hot with yogurt on the side.

Methi-Paneer Paratha


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Methi- Paneer Paratha

There is no better food to come home to than fresh home made parathas. Parathas are a great way to incorporate many ingredients into one ( spices, veggies). Also if you have picky kids in the house like me, this is a great way to pack in calories.

Ingredients: Makes about 8 parathas

For the filling:

Paneer grated 1 cup ( Use can use mozzarella cheese instead)

Methi leaves 1 cup chopped

Ajwain seeds 1 tbsp

Garam masala 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Mix the above ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

For the dough:

Wheat flour ( atta ) 4 cups

Oil 2 tbsp

Salt to taste

Mix the atta, salt and oil to form soft dough using luke warm water. Set aside for 3-4 hours. Make small tennis ball size rolls of the dough. Using a polling pin, flatten the dough into 8” circle, ¼” thick., occasionally dusting the dough in the flour. Place the filling in the center of the circle. Cover the filling all around with the dough and flatten it. Again using the rolling pin, flatten the dough out into the same size as before. Cook both sides on medium low flame. Serve with a dollop of butter! Enjoy with pickle and raitha.